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  • Hedi

Use Storytelling to connect with your team members or employees.

Without trust we don’t truly collaborate; we merely coordinate, or at best cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team. – Stephen M.R. Covey

And with that powerful quote: Welcome to another cool and simple (Virtual) Team Building Tool.

Now: How can you foster trust? In your team?

By giving the opportunity to talk. Like about how changes, like abruptly switching to remote work, has affected everyone's lives, you work with…

BUT. Struggles can be hard to articulate if you're not used to it.

You're not naturally opening your mouth and say in a virtual meeting: "Well, since we're working from home, I feel like a truck ran over me. And these are precisely the reasons why." Right? ;))

If the process of reflection and sharing isn't an established ritual, or there's no structure helping you, so the sharing rounds are inviting and with an actual outcome? It's tough to pull it off. I know.

And even more so if you are not in one room, without that human element but only connected virtually. Then sharing can become even more tricky.

Looking at the quote, though, it's super important. Because collaboration needs exchange. And you, as a team member or team lead want to know what's up in people's lives so you can cater to their needs and well-being. Because only then can they and you altogether do the best work you can do.

So in today's innovation training session, I'd like to share with you a super-duper quick, easy, and fun exercise, almost a magic trick really, to jump-start a highly structured sharing session.

To help your team connect, share their status quo and possible needs, build trust, and become a better, stronger workforce.

To get more clear about what we're talking about here...

What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is according to the US national storytelling network:

"The interactive art of using words to reveal the elements and images of a story, in this case, your own story. While encouraging the listener's imagination."

In other words: Storytelling is a great way of wrapping your emotions and concerns. It's a way of speaking up without being too personal. It's a playful, very comfortable process. Because we have been doing this for thousands of years, we are natural storytellers. And therefore it's quick and fun.

Because storytelling is so naturally interactive, it's so cool for teams and small groups. 

How come it's interactive?

Think about when you were read to by your mum when you were a child or when you listen to your best friend telling stories about how he's hitchhiked through Europe with zero money. Storytelling is naturally interactive because you always have a storyteller and one or more listeners. 

And why is this storytelling such a smart way of sharing whats up?

Because it's engaging, naturally connecting, there is no barrier between the teller and the audience. The one thing we all fight about is getting focus and attention. If it's engaging and connecting, you don't need to fight for it; people want to listen.

Now, this might all sound complex and complicated to achieve. And I can tell you it's not.

How can you use storytelling now for your purpose? 

You need a structure. And I give you structure.

Pixar uses it. Any movie or story is built on this.

I call it the 6 magical storytelling prompts. And here they are:

  1. Once upon a time, there was a ...

  2. And every day ...

  3. Until one day ...

  4. And because of that ...

  5. And because of that... 

  6. Until finally ...

Does this sound familiar?

I bet.

This is how we've been telling stories for eternity.

Now how to make this structure work for your activity?

You give your team members the prompts to fill out their stories about themselves. From experience, they need about 5 minutes. Not more to write it down. It should really come from the top of your head and heart, without judgment. Which often happens if you give more time.

How to use this structure? Here is an example:

1. Once upon a time, there was a...

... here each team member introduces him or herself as a character of a story, in 3rd person.

For example: "Once upon a time there was the cheerful HR queen Gabby."

2. And every day...

... here you describe your old reality, how it was back then, before the change to, for example, remote work happened, or whatever it is you want to focus on.

For example: "And every day she would have her office door wide open, so employees could just enter casually and get their problems fixed straight away."

3. Until one day...

... here you fill out what the tipping point was.

For example: "Until one day, COVID 19 happened, and the lockdown forced all of us to stay and work from home.

4. And because of that...

... here you write down all the results.

For example: "And because of that employees could not just enter her office casually any more."

5. And because of that...

... here you write down even more results, possibly struggles and your main pain points of this new situation.

For example: "And because of that, the HR queen could not help the employees she wants to serve anymore."


And lastly, 6. Until finally...

... here you describe your new reality. How the situation is for you currently.

For example: "Until finally, she got so helpless and frustrated that she is thinking about quitting her job."

It's a sounds like sad story, but this is nothing unusual if your people open up. It resembles stories I've heard in these times.

And actually it's not (!) sad because once you've heard and noticed, you can cater to the needs of your HR queen Gaby.

By finding solutions to her problem of feeling disconnected to the people, she wants to serve.

I really hope you liked this exercise.

If so, make sure to register for the newsletter. So you never miss another innovation training session.

Thanks so much for your time and energy. Keep up your RocknRoll work and till next time here on this blog and channel.

XXX Hedi

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